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The Star’s CEO departs

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The Star's CEO departs
The Star Entertainment Group’s CEO and managing director has left the business after less than two years.

The Star, which has significant event space and hotel rooms within its footprint across two Australian states, announced Robbie Cooke’s immediate departure to the stock market on Friday.

According to their ASX statement, both Cooke and The Star’s board believe a change in leadership is in the best interests of the business as the company is not likely to regain its gaming licence in NSW under Cooke.

The Star had its gaming licence suspended in NSW in October 2022 for regulatory failings in its casino operations, with an independent manager installed to oversee the casino as the business sought transformation to address identified issues.

In February the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC) announced there would be a second inquiry into The Star in less than two years.

In December 2023, according to the state’s casino regulation body, “the NICC was not satisfied The Star was progressing its remediation in a timely fashion”.

When the second review was launched last month, NICC chief commissioner, Philip Crawford, said “[t]he NICC has had concerns about the extent that remediation is attributable to the manager’s oversight and direction versus what is being driven by The Star’s reform agenda”.

“Whilst I find the position exceptionally disappointing, I have reached the conclusion that my continuation in the group CEO role is not going to be conducive to the NICC determining to find The Star capable of becoming suitable to hold a casino licence in NSW,” said Cooke of his departure.

“In these circumstances a change in leadership provides the best opportunity for the business to navigate the regulatory pressure it is facing. I take comfort in what we have achieved as a team over the last 16 months, and I’m certain the company is now on the right path.

“David [Foster, chair of The Star’s board] and the next CEO have my ongoing support in delivering on the key business and important strategic initiatives that are underway.”

“Robbie has worked tirelessly since he joined in October 2022, focusing on stabilising the operations, resolving a number of existential threats to the business, addressing separate remediation demands from regulators, and rebuilding the management team and systems,” said Foster.

“Robbie shared in a resolve to put safe, responsible and ethical gaming at the core of what we do.”

The Star also announced on Friday that its group CFO, Christina Katsibouba, has resigned after nine years with The Star, including two as CFO.

Former global CFO for Corporate Travel Management, Neale O’Connell, will take on the role of interim CFO. O’Connell also previously spent more than 13 years with gambling business Tatts Group.

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